Archive for the 'Food' Category

magic juice.

Doesn’t this sound absolutely delicious? I have yet to make it – I’m waiting for proper patio weather, which according to the weatherman is just around the corner. I better get my supplies rounded up…

Edit: I made this today while my sister was in town – it’s so refreshing! The cucumber is fantastic with the fruit – I have to admit, we used a little more than called for. Now I just have to figure out what to do with the leftover fruit…


menu planning.

I started planning out my meals a few months ago. I don’t follow my plans all the time, but when I do it certainly helps. If I don’t make something one night, I know I can bump it to another.

It’s made grocery shopping easier; I know exactly what I need, and I don’t have to wander looking for inspiration.

I waste less food. I plan around what’s languishing in the fridge, and I only buy as much as I need for the meals I’m making.

And best of all, meals get started sooner in the day. I don’t have to think about what we’re going to have that night, or what I’m in the mood to make. And if meat needs to be thawed or marinated, it’s already done the day before. I end up making better food instead of quickly whipping up pasta and jarred sauce with salami thrown in yet one more time.

I both looked for and made a few meal calendars over the past few months, looking for one that would work best for me. I finally made one that I like enough to hang onto for a while (despite the fact that it’s rather utilitarian).

Breakfast is always the same for us, and rarely requires planning unless we have guests so I didn’t bother including its own separate row. The other row is used for baking or prep work that I want to do during the week. I usually write ingredients that I want to use up along the bottom of the page to keep them in mind.

If you want to use this, click on the image for the printable pdf file (it prints two to a page). At the very least, give meal planning in general a try and see how it improves your meals and your ‘what’s for dinner mood’.

P.S. Another (prettier) meal calendar here. Or use a whiteboard or chalkboard in your kitchen – although it means the grocery list isn’t very portable.

roast chicken.

I am not saving the best for last. This is probably the best thing I have going in that recipe box of mine. I love roast chicken – although really only the dark meat – and I will make it every chance I get, any way I can.

Originally I only made it the way I’d found it, but I’ve found that I can make it much quicker as well. The long version allows the spices to fully flavour the meat, but having them just on the outside for the short version is still tasty. I’m giving you the spice mix, but also two ways to roast your chicken, and the methods for making a chicken gravy with the roasting pan and a simple chicken stock with the carcass.

Spice Rub:

I usually scale it up and make a canning jar’s worth at a time, but this amount will be enough for a 3-4 lb whole chicken or 2-3 lb of chicken pieces:

2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder

Quick Version (Chicken Pieces):

Sprinkle some of the rub into a small bowl and add a bit of oil so it makes a thick paste. Rub chicken pieces (breasts, thighs, drumsticks…whatever your preference) with the rub and let sit while preheating your oven to broil. The rack should be 10-12″ from the top of the oven. When the oven is ready, cook first side for 12-14 min and second side for 8-10 min, until cooked through. If it begins to char, move the rack further from the broiler. Let chicken stand for 10 min (under foil) before serving to redistribute juices.
*Tip: putting a wire rack inside the roasting pan and resting the chicken pieces on the rack will give you a crispy skin.

Long Version (Whole Chicken):

Thaw your whole chicken. Pat dry with a paper towel to help the rub stick to the chicken. Add a bit of oil to the rub to make a thick paste, and rub the outside and inside of the chicken (if you can reach under the skin, put some there too). Chop a whole peeled onion into eighths and place in the cavity. You could also add some cut garlic cloves. Double wrap in saran wrap and let sit for 12-24 hrs. Bake at 250 degrees for about 4 hours, until the temperature of the thickest part of the thigh is 180 degrees (or you can stab it to test – the juices should run clear and there should be no pink meat inside). Let the chicken stand for 10 minutes before cutting to redistribute the juices.

Chicken Pan Gravy:

If the whole chicken or pieces have left a good deal of ‘stuff’ stuck on the bottom of the pan, make gravy while the chicken is standing. Add 1/4 c. white wine or chicken stock to the roasting pan (make sure it’s safe for the stovetop), place over two burners and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Scrape up the browned bits with a wooden spoon until dissolved into the wine/stock; pour into a large glass measuring cup. Scoop off any fat that rises to the top. In a small pot, melt together 1 tbsp flour and 1 tbsp butter. Let cook gently for about one minute, then add the wine/chicken liquid. Whisk until a smooth sauce forms. Season with salt and pepper. I also usually add some parsley for colour.

Slow Cooker (or Stockpot) Chicken Stock:

I usually do this overnight after we’ve had the chicken and I’ve picked off the leftovers for later. Save the chicken carcass and if you want, the bones from the drumsticks etc. Place in slow cooker with:

1/2 unpeeled, coarsely chopped onion
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 celery rib, coarsely chopped
1 tsp. pepper
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tbsp parsley
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp thyme

Almost cover the chicken with water and cook on low for 8-10 hours (Try not to add too much more water unless you’re getting dry – I haven’t had to add water yet). Strain and cool uncovered, then refrigerate covered. Remove cooled fat with a spoon when ready to use. Can season with salt and pepper, or just add s&p to the dish you’re using the stock in, to taste.

Stockpot Version: If you don’t want to use a slow cooker, you can also do it in a large pot. Slowly bring the chicken and water to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes, skimming the fat occasionally. Add the veggies & herbs and simmer partly covered for 3-4 hours, adding more water to almost cover if necessary. Strain and cool uncovered, then refrigerate covered. Remove the fat with a spoon when ready to use.

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